On The Love Of Dogs:

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Now. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but as regular readers know, I am primarily a cat person, although I have several canine acquaintances, including a mountainous Dogue De Bordeaux. It’s some years now too since I had my own little dog, but my sister and my mother are both stalwart and faithful dog owners.

I have regarded my mother’s dogs, most particularly her German Shepherds, as sister dogs and daughter dogs, but it wasn’t until an incident the other day that I gained a proper and full appreciation of the true meaning of the love and loyalty of dogs.

Briefly – my mother has two dogs, her German Shepherd called Erin, and a (supposed) lurcher/whippet crossbreed called Rocky. He’s fun and bouncy, hurts like hell when he steps on your toes with giant clawed feet or sends you flying with a casual shoulder barge. I have played the extremely boring game of directing the laser pointer mouse so he can chase it, been on walks with him and saved pieces from my dinner to give him as he has sat gazing soulfully at me whilst gently drooling on my trousers.

I have suffered the indignation of his cold wet nose shoved unexpectedly down my top in friendly greeting and most recently, his bemused examination of my face and throat as I squeak and hoot at him with my laryngitis affected voice. However, what happened the other day touched me most profoundly and moved me – too often we underestimate the power of an animal’s love and emotion, the depth of their feeling for us.

Unfortunately, my eldest son has had some extreme personal issues and my relationship with him has deteriorated to the extent where physical violence was offered, after a lot of shouting between us. Rocky had watched the exchange growing more and more heated and unpleasant and when he raised his fists, the dog pushed himself firmly between us and growled at him. Fiercely and with meaning.

I won’t go into any further details about the argument – it is absolutely no longer my story to tell, but what remained with me was Rocky’s unquestioning defence and obvious love for me in the way he wanted to protect me.

So, in essence, then, I just want to say thank you to all our wonderful, loyal and loving canine friends. Good dogs!

Mother’s Mayhem… or… The Dog And Door

32687056_241679086577506_5934327510832513024_nI may not have mentioned this, but my mother is quite… um… short. About 5’4” to be exact. My sons are both over 6 foot and I am a respectable 5’7”… (and ¾ but what’s in a quarter of an inch..hehehe… )

I sometimes tease her bout her lack of stature, although she can be quite fierce. Possibly a Lily, if she was a cat, deceptively small but also quite murderous. Today’s story took place while we were at the hospital, otherwise I would have been straight round to help, laugh a bit and probably even take some photos.

Mother’s day began well enough, and she thought she would do a little gardening, in the front garden. The dogs accompanied her – they do most places, the kitchen… the toilet… the bathroom… sometimes even in the bath to her annoyance. Erin sat like a lady, watching Mum as she weeded. Rocky watched for a little while, then decided that the life of Monty Don was not for him and legged it. He cleared the three foot high hedge like a steeplechaser and galloped off down the street.

What did my mother do? Well, what would any self-respecting 70 something lady do… she hurdled the hedge like a professional and galloped off down the road after Rocky, screaming:

Come back you little $%&*@!!”

Knee problems forgotten – indeed, fallen by the wayside – my mother retrieved the runaway Rocky and marched back up the road. All this time, Erin had been waiting patiently in the garden – “Have a good run did you, Mum? Perhaps we could go in now, I’d quite like a drink of water and a biscuit…”

However, because the back door was open, the connecting door between the hallway and the front room had slammed irrevocably shut. No amount of kicking, swearing, jumping up and down and gibbering in rage (my mother) or furious barking and scratching (the dogs) could open the door.

Mum decided that the best course of action would be to shut the dogs in her bedroom so they couldn’t run off, and go down the alleyway around the side of the next door house to gain access to her kitchen via the back door. My mother bravely battled six foot tall brambles, creeping underneath them where necessary – whilst only wearing a thin t-shirt and trousers – and finally made it to the kitchen.

She tried the connecting door from that side. She couldn’t shift it, but worked out that the force of the door slamming had snapped the barrel of the inside mechanism cleanly in two and jamming the door firmly shut. Having access to tools from the kitchen she thought she might have better luck back on the other side, so, quite quickly, as she could hear the dogs thundering about upstairs and didn’t know what they were doing, she seized a hammer and a screwdriver and ran back outside to fight her way back through the thicket of thorns like some feminist Princess Charming bent on rescuing her incarcerated canines.

My mother burst out of the alleyway, leaves in her hair, scratches all up and down her arms, a wild look in her eyes brandishing the large hammer and screwdriver –

All right love?” said her neighbour from over the road, eyeing her somewhat dubiously.

No I’m $%^&* not!!”

Her neighbour is a lovely young man of about twenty five or so with a wife and two kids, but he at once summoned the help of his friend, a strapping bloke, and his well-equipped tool box. It took them over an hour to get it open. The dogs were delighted to be reunited with the rest of the house…

When I came round later that day after I’d been to the hospital, the dogs were sleeping peacefully in their beds and Mum was sitting innocently on the sofa. I noticed at once she had a bruise on her face from where her hands had slipped and smacked herself on the nose while trying to wrestle open the door.

The whole sorry tale came out – and her concluding words were:

But look! I made bread!”

Really. She never ceases to amaze me, one way or another. I did tell her to make sure she carries her phone at all times though… just in case she gets trapped in a teacup. Or something. No telling what next…

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Butter wouldn’t melt… 

Trust.

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Walkies! Great! Let’s go! What? In the car? All right then… but wait. Stop. Please. Where are you going? Don’t leave me! Gone.

Dark. Alone. Afraid. Where am I? Home. Want to go home – what’s that? Frightened. Noisy. Run. Run. Run.

Hurt. Paws hurt. Tired. Alone. Afraid. Hungry. Afraid. Sad.

Dark. So tired. Sleep.

Gerrout! Go on! Gerrout of it!”

Run. Oh – that hurt! Run. Lost. What did I do?

Bad dog!”

Run.

Tired. Frightened. Alone. Sad. I’m not a bad dog. Just old.

What – run!

Shouting, throwing things and not to play.

Here – quiet, lie down…

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The old dog jumped, startled awake at the gentle touch on his head, and struggled to sit up on tired old haunches, ready to run at a moment’s notice on cracked sore paws.

It’s all right, boy, don’t be scared…”

The young man reached out a hand to the old dog who looked up into his face; and consideringly, carefully, he lifted his paw and put it in the young man’s hand.

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Gold And Goodbyes.

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Strictly speaking, Gold is a mineral, not a crystal, but it still has its place in the world of healing and therapy. It is said to inspire knowledge, encourage spirituality and bring true understanding of the physical and spiritual self so they can be united and complete.

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It is traditionally a symbol of wealth but is also said to encourage generosity and compassion, a mineral made for sharing and caring, not hoarding. Gold can also be associated with purity and development.

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Gold can help with the balancing of the heart chakra and its purity is also credited with the ability to preserve thoughts and information which can be accessed at a later date. It clears negativity from the chakras and aura and is a lovely way to connect with higher energies.

Physical examples of gold’s ability to endure can be found in the jewellery and relics of Roman..Saxon… Egyptian times…however far you care to go back, and it is a wonderfully positive mineral to have about you, wear, or use. It has a lot of positive associations – a golden handshake, golden years and so on, and who isn’t happy with the gift of golden jewellery.

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We recently had to say goodbye to Lucky the budgie and it actually upset me a lot more than I anticipated. You see, we’d had him for nearly ten years – my little dog Lulu found him when we were out walking the dogs (A Lucky Save), Walter, my beloved old cat knew him, he’d watched Charlie grow from kitten to princess and was distinctly unimpressed with Ting and Tooty – these animals were and are all part of a long golden chain linked by love.

Animals that I have known and loved and the privilege to share my life with, spanning forty and more years, from Walter to Tibby, his mother, to Mogwai, Ginger and Ming my Burmese, then Snoopy, my very first cat. Not forgetting the dogs… from Lulu to Rebel to Rowan to Rosie to Shadow and Wolf, then Nikki and Bruce… all the way back to my mother’s first dog Beauty and cat, Peppy…

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A roll call of the faithful, their love still shining as bright as any gold in a chain of love that carries us through our days and helps us if we lose our way. So, although goodbyes can be sad, treasure them like gold as we forge a new link in our lives.

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Love always xx

Disappointing Dogs…

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By this I don’t mean that I find dogs disappointing – far from it. Although I really am a “cat person” we have always had dogs, when I was growing up, and my mother still has dogs now. They are family to me – I learned to walk holding on to our rescue greyhound, Gypsy, and a succession of German Shepherds have been sister dogs and companions to me.My older son doesn’t get this… it annoys him if the dogs look at him while we’re eating; whereas to me, sharing my food with animals is second nature…I am often to be found eating my lunch with one cat on my knee and Ting reaching out a long brown arm in an attempt to swipe something. If I am having dinner at my mother’s and Erin sighs at me and says “Nom-noms!” how am I supposed to resist?

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Alex, my younger son, has a similar affinity with animals. Some of my fondest memories involve visiting petting zoos etc. with both my sons – Alex would engage directly with all the animals, talking to them, touching them, my older son was nearly eaten by a goat and refused to participate.

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My mother’s dog Rowan was a great playmate for Alex, he would take his toys outside to play and explain the long and complicated game to her. She gave every appearance of both listening and being interested. Alex loves our canine family members too and they sense this and respond – when he came home at Christmas, Rocky was so pleased to see him he jumped straight over the four foot high garden gate and into his arms.29391434_216583372420411_1549045352_o

Likewise, my sister, who has three dogs of her own, two crossbreeds and a bulldog – they adore Alex. When we visit, the room is full of waving tails, grinning jaws and panting breath.

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Then. And then. Then comes the disappointment. Alex returns to university. It’s just me. I go to visit my sister – the dogs are crowding at the door, panting and eager:

“Where is he? Where’s the fun one? Where’s the boy? Where … oh. It’s you. Just you.”

They look at me, having first looked behind me to ascertain that Alex isn’t hiding behind me… under my coat or in my bag… just in case he isn’t somehow immediately visible. Or perhaps delayed. I am subjected to a cursory sniff and a polite wag of the tail, then they return to their beds, disappointment evident in every line of their body.

“Yeah… just her then.”

“She’s boring – she screams when I snot on her…”

“I know – she doesn’t like muddy paw prints either…”

You get the idea.

So, leaving one set of disappointed dogs, I carry on down to my mother’s, mentally preparing myself to fail the next lot of canine expectations. My mother’s dogs hear the garden gate and they’re up at the windowsill, smiling and smearing their noses on the glass – I can hear my mother –

“Get off the bloody curtains!”

And then they see me. Just me. The tail wagging decreases a gear, the grins are slightly less frantic…

“Oh. Just her then.”

“Oh no! Oh no. The boy’s gone! But I love him!”

This from Rocky. I open the door and am quickly nose-frisked –

“Nope, she’s seen her sister, but no boy…”

I am subjected to the same inspection:

“No, he’s not behind her… check her bag… not in the hallway..”

Rocky and Erin resume their previous activities. I am left feeling distinctly lacking in dog -worthiness.

I cheer up at the thought of going home, having spent an afternoon disappointing dogs. Surely the cats will be pleased to see me… won’t they?

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“Ohh… back so soon?”

Conversational Creatures…

22396626_136249047120511_319908426_oNow. Everybody knows that animals can talk – well, of course you do, as I even follow a number of blogs that are run exclusively by animals, and some that have human assistance… (The Canadian Cats, Seven Cats and Counting, Adventures In Cheeseland… I would link, but I haven’t quite managed to work out how to do that yet…)

When I was a little girl, I used to watch a wonderful television programme called “Animal Magic”, which was about the adventures of a zookeeper and the animals in his care. The zookeeper was the lovely Johnny Morris, (pretend another link here…) who also voiced all the animals, giving them individual characters and mannerisms. This programme held me transfixed, my sister too, even at the superior age of ten years older than me.

So, to entertain me, my sister began to give voices to our animals – she did wonderful vocalisations for our rat colony, and, as you do, when she and I had our own children, we carried it on. Even now both my sons are older, I still do it, possibly more for my own amusement than theirs; but my present girls have such individual personalities they are irresistible…

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                     “Of course I can talk…you just have to listen VERY carefully… “

However, my mother’s dog, Erin, really takes the biscuit…dog, of course. Mum has always had German Shepherds, ever since she was a teenager herself, and they have all been a delight to know and a joy to our family… Nikki, Rosie, Rowan.. and now Erin. Sister dogs and daughter dogs to me, but none quite as vocal as Erin.

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She is a very soft-footed dog, and adept at sneaking up behind me while I am washing up and delivering a sudden “WAH!” to demand a chew. One particular day, she had been bothering my mother for treats and she said quite sharply to her:

No! You’re not having any more chews! You’re having your dinner in a minute!”

Erin gave her a wounded look and said:

Ha-WIBBLE!”

Hard to transcribe phonetically, but most definitely “Horrible!”

She has a vast repertoire of groans and sighs and huffs which she will use to conduct a conversation:

Would you like to go out?”

Hwah!”

Shall you come here and get your lead on?”

Ahh! Ha-RUH! Wahh! Ouahh!”

The funniest to date though, has to be what she said to me the other week. I like to read, while I am eating my dinner, as does Mum, and Erin is aware that I generally give her pieces from my plate. Yes… I know I shouldn’t… but…

I was obviously taking too long in giving her a titbit, since she heaved a loud sigh, shifted her front paws impatiently and said:

Nom-noms!”

I laughed so much I felt obliged to give her the rest of my dinner…

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Opalite And Opinions About Cats…

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This form of Opalite, as shown in the pictures, can also be known as Tiffany Stone, Opalised Fluorite and Purple Opal. It is, in actual fact, a man-made glass compound and opinion is divided as to whether it is a genuine crystal with any metaphysical benefit.

However, it is a pretty stone to look at, and make things from, and as a wise lady I know always says, it’s good to work with colours. It has a milky, opalescent gleam to it, and like most crystals, it is useful as a focus for meditation. It has a subtle energy to it that is said to help clear any spiritual blockages and lend support during life changes.mg_4255-1

Opalite encourages both strength of will and character, and is said to bring inner peace and calm. It is credited with improving communication channels and encouraging us to voice our thoughts and feelings.

A good stone to tie in with the title – this is the follow up post to “Obsidian And Older” where a very interesting debate arose, essentially: do cats’ personalities change after hey have been neutered.

I must thank everybody who was kind enough to share their views, opinions and personal experiences,  and as much as I would like to say I have come to a definitive conclusion, the overall answer is as varied as cats and owners themselves… Some cats are just basically grouchy, while others are furry angels and some are a combination of both…

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I must emphasise, though, that unless you are a professional breeder, then ALWAYS have your animal neutered. The over-riding urge to reproduce is removed, as are all the accompanying health risks, and the overflow of unwanted babies is not an issue.

There are outside factors to consider, such as whether the animal came from a home, a farm, or a feral mother, for example. One kitten may be warm and playful, while its litter mate is shy and timid. Another point – I had my four girls spayed at three different vets with varying results. Charlie’s operation actually cost the most and when she recovered, I did notice a personality change. Although still reasonably loving towards me – after she’d got over the indignity of stitches and a bald spot – she would have very little to do with Lily, when previously they had been close enough to curl up together to sleep.

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Ting and Tooty still remain close, and while Ting is loving, Tooty is quite timid. Age. There’s another factor… cats’ personalities continue to develop as they get older – as indeed do dogs. Erin can be grouchy maiden-auntish, but will drop into puppy play… if she feels like it.

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My old cat, Walter, was the last kitten from a litter his mother – also my cat – had, by accident. Unloved and unable to find him a home, I ended up keeping him myself, and he went on to become one of my most beloved cats. So… Nature vs. Nurture – a favourite point of debate. Are cats born with their own inherent natures, to develop as they age; or does circumstance, upbringing and what they learn from those around them have a bigger influence?

Thank you to everyone again, who shared their views, experiences and opinions; although ultimately, I suspect, as with Opalite, opinions will remain inconclusive. I do know one thing for certain, though… cats definitely learn from each other. I’m surprised I’m not ten feet long, being wrapped around so many furry paws!

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Walk!

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As I no longer have my own dog and the girls pretty much take care of their own exercise regime, I help my mother walk her dogs.

Not only is this practical – she had a fall at the beginning of winter last year and lost a lot of confidence – but it also gives me a chance to poke about in Nature in our local country park, draw creative inspiration and my mother to do some training with Rocky while I occupy Erin.

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It should be a serene, calm time… but Erin generally has other ideas. The dogs know their walk time, and as I set foot on the garden path I see two eager faces appear at the front room window.

Then the drama starts. I’m trying to put my walking shoes on, Rocky is thundering about and Erin is jumping up and down screaming – literally –

YAROOO – AH! Wah! Wah! GRRRR!!”

This last growl at Rocky as he ventures too close…

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Dogs safely on leads, we are on our way. We have to walk down a particularly narrow, steep flight of concrete steps. A Staffordshire bull terrier lives in the house to one side and regards the whole area as his property. Rocky objects to this and consequently I am pinged back and forth between the two sets of fence like a pinball.

Mum and Erin descend in a generally more sedate fashion, Erin resembling a Victorian lady lifting up her skirts and tripping daintily down the stairs.

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Having reached the bottom and asked to sit, the dogs are given a biscuit each and allowed off the lead, and armed with plastic bags and more biscuits we set off.

I enjoy these walks as they are also an opportunity for me to practise my photography on my phone camera. I like to look at things in miniature and see the wonder of all creation in tiny scale, trying to capture it so I can share.

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However, I have discovered that photography and dogs don’t really mix. Well. Rocky and photography to be precise… I was tracking the flight of a beautiful butterfly, hoping it would settle for a photo – SNAP!

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No… not me. The dog. A tiny yellow flower, that caught my attention… SNAP! An empty pigeon shell, carefully nestled in the grass… SNAP!

But how can I be irritated, as despite my howl of anguish, Rocky beams at me cheerfully:

Come on! Let’s WALK!”

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Thulite And Thinkers

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Let me introduce… Thulite! This stone is a new acquaintance, but already quite a favourite… I’ll explain…

This may look like an unassuming little pebble, but it originates from Norway, the “Land Of The Midnight Sun”, at the top of the world, almost, and as such, this crystal is positively brimming with Light, Life and regeneration.

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It kick starts the immune system to promote healing and does the same thing mentally, if there is resistance, emotional barriers, to overcome. It’s a demonstrative crystal that helps to overcome shyness and the stress associated with it; likewise it can be used to encourage physical passion within a relationship, and to accept this as a positive manifestation of the human body.

Thulite encourages mental agility, problem solving and logic, balancing love and intelligence, important qualities of Life that we need to move forward.

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Problem solving… hmm… I’m rubbish. I’m not particularly good at lateral thinking (those fairies again) although I can sometimes look at an issue and think: “Oh this is how it should be,” even though I lack the technical ability to make it so…

I love to watch thought processes in animals… Rocky, my mother’s pup, amused me. He left his marrowbone outside and went back to fetch it. He was moving quite quietly – I was washing up so I saw the whole thing – but he stopped halfway across the garden.

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Sitting on his marrowbone was a large black and white magpie, splendidly glossy and confident. Rocky was watching this magpie very closely, as it used its long pointy beak to stab out pieces of marrow… Finally Rocky could stand it no longer and rushed over to reclaim his bone, and I had to smile at the look of wonder on his face as he realised that the magpie had knocked loose some chunks that he could reach.

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He brought the bone back inside and gnawed it thoughtfully for a minute or two, and I could see there was something ticking in his mind… He got up, took the bone back outside and carefully laid it down in the spot where the magpie had previously visited the bone. He retreated to the kitchen doorway to wait…

Sure enough, the magpie came back and fluttered down to sit on the bone and resume exhuming this tasty treat… Rocky gave the bird a good couple of minutes’ work time, and then walked – not rushed – over to to retrieve his bone. Again, there were some bonus piece that the dog could now reach…

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Every time my mother buys the dogs bones, now, Rocky will take them outside and wait for the magpie to come down and start the excavation. Teamwork? Innovative thinking? I don’t really know, but to me it was a wonderful illustration of two totally different species working together, Rocky having thought through the easiest way to achieve his goal with a little help from another black and white friend…!

I couldn’t finish without mentioning cats… of course… sometimes my cats make it all too clear what they think of me. Other times, our thoughts are perfectly in synch…

One thing is for certain though, Madame La Princesse, Charlie, thinks she has us all wrapped around her dainty little paw… She’s not wrong either!

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The Eyes Have It…

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What’s the first thing you look at when you meet someone? For me, it has to be the eyes… you can read a lot about a person – or an animal – from their eyes. It’s obviously a very significant body part as look how many moths and butterflies adopt the eye pattern to give the impression of being big and scary…

My mother’s puppy, Rocky, has a habit of putting his head on my knee and slow blinking. As any cat lover knows, I am aware that in cats this is the feline equivalent of a kiss… sort of … but I’d never seen a dog do it.

So, I Googled it and was enchanted to learn that it means the dog has no aggressive intentions towards you, it’s making friendly eye contact and is relaxed in its environment. It just so happened that I was eating my dinner when Rocky sweetly laid his head on my knee and slow-blinked his eyes lovingly… and demonstratively… displaying non-threatening intentions towards my salad!

It also amused me that he regarded me of sufficient importance in the “pack” to be appeased thus… I think Erin, Mum’s German Shepherd, regards me as an equal (perhaps), maybe a rather annoying sister, as she rolls her eyes expressively at my mother when I want to hold her paw, or her tail… or touch her nose…or look at her teeth…

My four cats all have different colour eyes which amuses me. Lily’s are emerald green, which show up beautifully against her black fur, as do Tooty’s – her eyes are a striking shade of yellow. Ting’s, of course, are as blue as a summer sky, the show up purple in some light; and Madame La Princesse, Charlie, has a special shade of greenish gold, uniquely all her own to reflect her feline intelligence… I wish I could my eye make up like hers…

Human eye colour is a funny old thing too… some people even going to the extent of wearing contact lenses to change their eye colour. If eyes are supposed to be the mirrors of the soul… isn’t that a little deceptive? Like wearing sunglasses… faces can be hard to read, then, without making direct eye contact.

Eye colour can form part of an accepted image too – look at James Bond. There was an outcry when Daniel Craig got the part of OO7 – blond haired? Blue eyed? This couldn’t be… but why? Why did having blue eyes make him less suitable, or visually pleasing to the eye, as James Bond? Why had so many fans identified the fictional agent with a dark hired, dark eyed suave man…

KH 1The lovely Ciaran Hinds (http://www.ciaranhinds.eu/chblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/ciaran-hinds-in-gothenburg.jpg)

Women are apparently attracted to men with dark eyes, according to scientific research, as men blessed with dark eyes are more likely to be confident and successful… is it the strongest caveman thing? Now, blue eyes can all be traced back to one common ancestor, who was a mutation; so perhaps the subconscious yearning for a man with dark eyes does indeed hark back to neolithic times when dark eyes were most prevalent and therefore most successful.

NP1Nathaniel Parker ~ in Inspector Lynley (http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/26700000/Nathaniel-Parker-nathaniel-parker-26797804-446-594.jpg)

Men with dark eyes feature as the “hero” or “lost one” in my little pieces of creative writing, and these dashing, dark-eyed heroes wander nonchalantly through my dreams…

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The lovely Mr. Jeffrey Dean Morgan of ‘Supernatural’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ fame

And yet, both my sons have blue eyes… My own are (of course) a somewhat uninteresting shade of green, ironically enough, similar to the new shade chosen for cigarette packets. “Opaque Couché” – the ugliest colour in the world, so Australian researchers say… Oh well. At least “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”… and I am blonde. Sort of.